January's terrorist attacks in Paris and the hundreds of French joining jihadi groups overseas are lending new urgency to government efforts in France to shape a tolerant, western-oriented Islam that reflects the country's secular values.

Central to this goal is a new push for programs in secularism and civics for imams and other key Muslim figures. But can they really make a difference in fighting the rise of home-grown, radical Islam?

A religion class at the Catholic University of Lyon. The lecture is on the Bible, though the dozen or so students jotting down notes are not aspiring priests. One is a woman wearing a headscarf.

Seeking tolerance

A man sports the beard of a devout Muslim. Still others are non-Muslims - civil servants working for the local government. Together, they are on the front lines of a national drive for greater religious tolerance, and to shape a moderate "Islam a la Francaise."

This class is part of a university-level training program run jointly by two Lyon universities and the city's main mosque. It includes classes on law, religion and how French principles of secularism are applied to daily life.

Students visit churches, mosques and synagogues to learn more about France's main faiths. At the end of the 24-week program, they get certificates in the 'Understanding of Secularity." Since it was launched just over two years ago, the program has already trained several dozen imams, Muslim chaplains and teachers, along with many non-Muslim civil servants.

Michel Younes, who oversees the training program at the Catholic University, said that by bringing Muslim leaders and civil servants together, the program aims to overcome differences in a society where public displays of religiosity are almost considered taboo.

More here: France Pushes Secularism Training at Mosques After Terror Attacks